Fact Checked

What Is the Connection between Eating Shrimp and Cholesterol?

Brandon May
Brandon May

Many people tend to avoid eating shrimp for fear that it will cause an increase in bad cholesterol levels, as shrimp is the highest cholesterol-containing seafood. What studies show, however, is that the shrimp and cholesterol link seems to be less harmful than most people believe. In fact, shrimp, which is high in certain types of heart healthy fats, may actually produce a healthier cholesterol profile. The connection between shrimp and cholesterol levels deepens further due to the fact that shrimp, being low in total fat and high in protein, can affect cholesterol levels favorably in the body.

Shrimp contains a relatively high cholesterol content in just one serving, which is why many doctors and nutritionists will warn patients about shrimp and cholesterol. These warnings may be exaggerated to some extent, however; studies suggest that the cholesterol content in shrimp has little affect on actual cholesterol levels in human blood. Therefore, it is usually recommended that an individual can enjoy eating shrimp without worrying that his or her cholesterol levels will rise dramatically or that he or she will have to worry about an increased risk of heart disease. These studies haven't confirmed whether or not current heart disease patients can eat shrimp on a regular basis.

Shrimp canapés.
Shrimp canapés.

The cholesterol in shrimp can raise cholesterol levels slightly, which is what gives many people a cause of concern. This rise affects both LDL and HDL cholesterol, or what is commonly referred to as "bad" and "good" cholesterol. Even though shrimp raises the bad cholesterol in the blood slightly, it raises the good cholesterol even more, offsetting any negative effects that might be experienced with a slight raise in LDL. This leads many nutrition researchers to believe that most people can enjoy steamed or grilled shrimp, not fried, in moderation and as part of a varied diet.


Most researchers will agree that the low fat and high protein content in shrimp contributes to the minimal change in cholesterol levels. It is often noted that the shrimp and cholesterol argument can be resolved due to shrimp's relatively high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart healthy fatty acids designed to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. Shrimp and cholesterol seem to be largely harmless in the majority of healthy individuals, as long as the individual is taking in consideration the rule of moderation and daily activity.

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Discussion Comments


The fat and cholesterol content of shrimp also depends on how it is cooked. Cooking methods can increase shrimp's cholesterol considerably if a lot of oils are added during the process.

Shrimp dishes that are deep fried, covered in heavy sauces, or basted in butter will have higher cholesterol levels than other types of shrimp dishes. If you like shrimp, limiting the ingredients that add to its cholesterol content will be beneficial to your health and cholesterol count.

For the healthiest ways to eat shrimp, try preparing it broiled, baked, steamed or boiled with just a little salt, pepper, and seasoning. You will find that you won't miss the grease and oil, and that you will be able to enjoy the natural flavor of the shrimp without added cholesterol.


This is good news for shrimp lovers, though it is important not to overdo eating it or any other type of food. Though shrimp can be eaten once in while, even by people who are on a limited cholesterol diet, it could be harmful if consumed very frequently.

Just like with any type of food or drink, moderation is the key to a healthy diet.

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